reading || Ilustrado, by Miguel Syjuco

We are still waiting for the election results here in the Philippines. I brought three books with me today, though, to keep me company–there has to be a lull or something, I’d thought. [Brought The Whole Story and Other Stories, by Ali Smith; and A Gate at the Stairs, to “review” what I felt about it, and the book I’m sharing today.] But I have not read a page from them. I am teensily emotionally wrecked, but only because I am exhausted, and a proven cry-baby. But I am hopeful. Still very much hopeful, ladies and gentlemen.

Aherm. Here is Ilustrado, by Miguel Syjuco. I am the last person who’d aim to use literature for politics–or even attempt to draw comparisons between the two. Maybe I live in a bubble. But I’ve been liking my bubble for quite some time now. But, well. Well. Here:

I eavesdrop on my countrymen, on their tentative English spoken to the cabin crew, never quite perfected despite years in the West: f‘s still often traded for p‘s, vowels rounded, tenses mixed, syllables clipped–only the well-practiced Western colloquialisms wielded with conviction. Like those phrases, we’re a collection of clichés, handy types worn as uniforms over our naked individuality. We are more real than that philosophical conceit of humanity as the milieu of light: we are the milieu of sweat. Our industriousness, our inexpensiveness, two sides of our great national image. That image the tangible form of our communal desire for a better life. Someone kicks the back of my seat as a reminder to quit being so profound.

I’ve only just started on the third chapter. So far, it’s a good ride. It’s good company while I have half of me turned to the news, a quarter of me hyperventilating, an eighth of me near weeping. How does the Math go again? Anyway. I think it’s fitting. I am hopeful this day will turn out right.

Dear Philippines. Damn it, make it work. That is all, for now.

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3 comments

  1. Were you disappointed in the results? The elections, I mean? But dang, does that mean Pacquiao won’t be fighting Mayweather, lol.

    Looking forward to a full review of Ilustrado, because I really want to read it, but somehow afraid to. That passage somehow feels condescending, don’t you think? Albeit true. Dear me.

    1. Very disappointed. But I like Noynoy enough, haha. The Senate slate, the Congress, though, AUGH. And ya know what? Pacquiao’s manager has said that he’d still be fighting Mayweather (November, I think), though they’ve said he’ll retire after that. Still, though. Congressman Pacquiao. Congresswoman Marcos. Congresswoman Arroyo [!!!]

      Anyhoo, haha. I’ve posted my review over here. It’s a teensy condescending, but it’s all part of the character’s psyche. He doesn’t romanticize, or he tries not to. I think the condescension is from the whole I Love Ye Too Much, I Have To Be Overly Critical standpoint. Huh.

  2. [...] reading || Ilustrado, by Miguel Syjuco [...]

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